Do you ever wonder how to be a productive working mom? You have great intentions, but you’re just busy. You intend to be proactive and finally get that closet cleaned out, but you end up spending all of your time on the urgent things of the moment.
Your typical day looks something like this…
- Your daughter just reminded you that her science fair project is due tomorrow.
- Your son forgot to put his uniform in the washer and he needs it for tonight’s game.
- You have an unannounced evaluation coming up any day.
- Your husband is heading out of town for a meeting tomorrow and asks you if you mind ironing his dress shirt.
- You forgot to thaw the chicken, so now you have to break the budget and run to a drive thru.
And then you wonder why you can’t make forward progress on ANYTHING! The reality is that you’re just too busy putting out fires!
So, today, I want to share 3 steps that will help you move from a position of helplessness and overwhelm to a position of control and proactivity that will allow you to finally ditch the stress and become a productive working mom.
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Step 1: Write It Down
I’m a huge proponent of writing things down. Just getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper will help you when you’re feeling restless or stressed out.
I keep a little notepad beside my bed just so that I can jot down anything that threatens to keep me up at night. Thinking about tomorrow’s math lesson, which day your medical form has to be turned in, what time your son has practice, what you will cook for dinner tomorrow, will drive you to sleeplessness…and eventual madness!
So, that notepad becomes your external brain. You dump all of your thoughts, questions, and concerns onto that sheet of paper so that you don’t forget anything important. And, then, you can go to sleep knowing that the reminder will be waiting on you in the morning.
For those of you who are tech-savvy and more likely to have your Smartphone handy than a notepad, you can do the same thing in the Notes app.
When I do a brain dump, I write EVERYTHING that’s spinning around in my mind with no regard to order. So, it would be very common for my brain dump list to include the 3 things that I need at the grocery store next to a reminder about washing my son’s uniform.
My brain dump papers usually include things like…
- items to buy at the grocery store
- school plans
- activities for the day
- date of a birthday party
- when a bill needs to be paid
Step 2: Centralize & Prioritize
Once you have a brain dump list of tasks, you need to centralize and prioritize. In other words, you need to get everything into one place and then prioritize all of the tasks so that you know needs to be accomplished first.
This is essential if you want to be a productive working mom. You need to have some form of a planner or binder where you can keep everything.
I have a Kikki-K planner that is 8”x 9.5” (a5 size). It’s big enough to hold my brain dump lists, my shopping list, my gift list, coupons, appointment reminder cards, and anything else I need, yet it’s small enough to keep with me all the time.
By having a planner, I’m always prepared to add to my brain dump list. And this keeps me from having to scrounge around for a ripped receipt or piece of chewing gum wrapper on which to write a thought or reminder.
If a planner isn’t in the budget right now, you can simply use an 8.5” x 11” 3-ring binder, but just remember, this size won’t be as portable. You can also apply these same tips by using your Smartphone. There are TONS of free apps available that can essentially replace a paper planner.
Making sure that your brain dump list moves from your bedside table into your planner, binder, or Smartphone is critical to your success in becoming more productive each day.
Prioritize Your List
Now that you have a planner or binder, you can start prioritizing. Remember, everything on our brain dump list is unordered and quite frankly a total disaster. So, we need to take a few minutes and organize those items based on priority.
Now, before you start prioritizing, I want you to consider two things.
1. Every task will get its own number.
In other words, no two items can tie or have the same number of importance. So, even if you think two tasks are equally important, you have to give them each different numbers. (And just so you know, rewriting your to do list is not going to make you more productive…at least that is what a friend told me.)
- Prioritizing by the simplicity of the task is cheating!!
Simply writing numbers 1-5 on the five easiest tasks isn’t going to make you more productive. As someone who finds great satisfaction in scribbling things off of my to do list, I speak from personal experience.
Crossing off more things has not taught me how to be a productive working mom. It has simply taught me how to write more things on my list while still leaving the most important tasks undone day after day.
Step 3: Manage Your Time Wisely
We have to be fiercely protective of our time because we’re only given 24 hours each day.
And I know what you are thinking, “How can I have better time management? I literally don’t have any time to manage!!”
Trust me, as a busy, working mom and entrepreneur, I get it!
Even though everyone on this planet has the same 24 hours in a day, as women, our time tends to be usurped by everyone else’s needs.
But that’s why time blocking and working during your power hours is a fantastic way to maximize your time and minimize your interruptions.
Time Blocking to organize your day
Just in case you don’t know what I mean when I say “time blocking,” I am referring to breaking your day into chunks of time and dedicating certain things to that time. As an online teacher, homeschooling mom, blogger, curriculum creator, and homemaker, I wear a lot of hats.
So, I have my day scheduled out in blocks of time that look something like this…
- 5:00-8:00 a.m. – teach online with VIPKid
- 8:00-10:00 a.m. – work on my blog
- 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – homeschool (My boys do a lot of their work online!)
- 1:00-3:00 p.m. – work on blog/create resources
As you can see, I’ve broken my day up into 3 categories…VIPKid, blogging, and homeschooling. (I didn’t include the other things that I do for the sake of simplicity.)
So now I know where those items on my prioritized brain dump list fit into my day.
Work During Your Power Hours
While time blocking is a great help, it’s only one piece of managing your time wisely. The other part is to work during your power hours.
When I say power hours, I’m talking about the time of the day when you feel hyper-focused.
Because I am 100% more focused in the mornings, I start my day early. This schedule gives me quiet time to accomplish some of the necessary tasks in my day before my boys wake up.
It also gives me time to look over my brain dump, prioritize that list, and figure out how those tasks fit into my schedule.
Don’t get wrong. I would love to sleep in until 10 am every day, but if I want to maximize my productivity as a working mom, I have to take advantage of the time that I have.
But just because that schedule works for me doesn’t mean that you have to adopt the same schedule. Simply think about when you get the most done in the least amount of time, and you’ll know your power hours.
The key to trying anything new is developing a growth mindset. This mindset says, “I can learn new things and be successful.” You can be a more productive working mom whether you work in the home or outside of the home.
And to help you tackle this new mindset and approach, I’ve created 2 printables for you to use and download as many times as you’d like!
Simply click on the Free Printable Library for immediate access.